Mozilla bookmark-group swapping

Intriguing thought from Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing:

‘This week’s Onion is out, and I’ve created a bookmark file for Mozilla that will load every page in the new ish in its own tab. If you’ve got Moz, right-click/control-click [this link

] and select “Save Link Target As…” Save the file, then select Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks… Once the bookmarks window is open, select Tools –> Import… and choose the file. You’ll have a new bookmark, called “The Onion Aug 1 2002.” Select it and your Moz window will open up with all the pages of the new Onion in it.

Why do this? I dunno. I have an idea that there could be an RSS aggregator or similar that outputted Moz tab-bookmark files. Wouldn’t it be cool if every morning, you sat down to your browser and had a tab-file that would load up all the day’s news stories (say, every link from the previous day’s Boing Boing or Wired News or Slashdot) — click it before you take your shower, and by the time you’re done, voila, tabbed newspaper!’

What, you don’t use Mozilla?? Worth it for the nifty tabbed browsing interface alone, as well as the fact it’s not Micro$oft. And BloggerPro supports it well…

To Hell in a Handbasket

Bush ready to declare war. Considerable evidence of the requisite military buildup…

…including the building up of strategic oil reserves in the US to insulate the economy against an expected hike in oil prices that would follow the opening of hostilities.

Discreet inquiries have also been made about the availability of the oil tankers that would be needed to transport aviation and other fuel to the Gulf for use by US forces.

In a further indication that America is readying itself for war, large numbers of US Army military trucks have undergone rapid servicing by the Oshkosh Truck Corporation and have been seen being delivered by rail back to their bases painted in tan desert camouflage.

(British PM Tony) Blair yesterday faced new demands from all sides to publish the now notorious dossier of information on Saddam’s nuclear, biological and chemical armoury that he has been promising to unveil since spring… The long delay in publication has prompted suspicions that the dossier, which relies heavily on satellite pictures, is embarrassingly thin. Guardian UK

In bombing and invading Iraq, the US will abandon its age-old practice of no first strike. Of course, since the Bush team has kept up the unceasing, absurd rhetoric about there being a War on Terrorism® against a global threat (and of Iraqi complicity with al Qaeda, even though doubted by both the FBI and CIA in a rare showing of agreement… LA Times), they have a ready-made case that this is not a preemptive strike but rather a reactive one. And, of course, we do have a time-honored tradition of taking down regimes we find unfriendly with covert action. Doing it overtly — look at the military appropriation Bush asked for (and received almost everything he had asked for) last month — of course instead justifies a massive shot in the arm for the failing economy that is otherwise likely to be Bush’s lasting historical legacy, and a giveaway to boot to some of the Administration’s military-contractor best friends… and to the coffin-makers as well.

And the fact that no one is immune from danger of a first strike from the World’s Only Superpower® (and World’s Primary Rogue State) will probably stimulate, not discourage, the development of weapons of mass destruction with hoped-for deterrent value by all the other rogue states.

But real benefit to long-range US security doesn’t matter, as long as the image is right and the voters can finally see Bush as having some success. In the face of a double dip recession and his failure to otherwise deliver on his grandiose WoT® “vision”, and especially if he can finish Daddy’s War for him (with an administration made up largely of his Daddy’s old warhorses), it is (as the most hackneyed line in the media speculation about this war goes) not a question of if but only of when

Deconstructing Cops vs. Drug Dealers:

“What drugs have not destroyed, the war on them has”: ‘David Simon, creator of the searing new HBO series “The Wire,” on why even the best cop shows are phony and our anti-drug mania amounts to a permanent war against the underclass… HBO’s new series “The Wire” is as much a polemic against the drug war as it is an indictment against traditional cop-show conventions.’

What’s behind the basic plot of “The Wire”?

It’s very loosely based on the experiences of my co-writer, Ed Burns, who was a 20-year veteran of the police department here in Baltimore. He did a lot of these protracted investigations, often of more than a year’s time, into violent drug traffickers. It was largely based on his experiences and his frustrations in the department. And then it was also based on my experiences at my newspaper, which became a sort of hellish, futile bureaucracy. And then while we were writing the scripts, Enron was happening. And the Catholic Church. It became more of a treatise about institutions and individuals than a straight cop show.

Like “The Corner,” “The Wire” deals with the drug epidemic in Baltimore. Why do you keep coming back to this subject and this city?

I’ve lived in Baltimore coming up on 20 years. I know it. I actually went to the mayor and told him, “This is gonna be a pretty bleak show. If you’re sick of this shit, we’ll take our business elsewhere.” But to his credit, he said, Do it. Baltimore is one of the most drug-involved cities in the country. It has been for years. The police department we’re portraying is not particularly exaggerated for the late ’80s, early ’90s. It was that dysfunctional. [More] Salon

You Still Here?

U.S. Challenged To Define Role In Afghanistan: “The lull in the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan has Afghans and Americans alike demanding that the U.S. military make clear what it is doing here and how much longer it plans to keep doing it.” Washington Post And: Special Forces take over hunt for al-Qaeda: “US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered the head of US Special Forces to take over the hunt for senior al-Qaeda leaders following frustration in the Bush administration that the war on terror has run out of steam.” Guardian UK

Attention acts as visual glue

“When you gaze at a bowl of fruit, why don’t some of the bananas look red, some of the apples look purple and some of the grapes look yellow?

This question isn’t as nonsensical as it may sound. When your brain processes the information coming from your eyes, it stores the information about an object’s shape in one place and information about its color in another. So it’s something of a miracle that the shapes and colors of each fruit are combined seamlessly into distinct objects when you look at them.”

Basic Epistemology 101:

I’ve been enjoying Warblogger Watch, another of those compendium weblogs, probably because the worldview of the contributors fits mine so well. Cognitively, that should be a cause for concern, which is precisely what this post from July 29 discusses. Igor Boog means to lambast the warbloggers but we ‘peacebloggers’ should be chastened as well:

Douglas Adams in one of his books describes a program that allows the user to specify a conclusion in advance, and then constructs a plausible series of logical-sounding steps out of a collection of facts, to support this conclusion. (In Adams’ book, the program is sold exclusively to the Pentagon, for obvious reasons.)

Probably most people’s brains work like this fictional program, more or less. People have a certain worldview (in the broadest sense of the word), and information that supports or seems to support their particular view is “processed” easier and faster. Information that doesn’t “fit” and should make people scrutinize or even reconsider their worldview and conclusions is often repressed, the people who present this information are often attacked, vilified. [thanks, Adam!]

BTW, perhaps the most thoughtful warblogger-watch contributor of late, along with Boog, is Grady Oliver, in a refreshing change from his contributions to Like Father, Like Sun, a little too densely laden with one-issue contempt for the New York Sun as it appears to be.

In another of FmH’s famous loose associations, the cognitive issue issue Boog discusses above is really similar to the ‘epistemology of epidemiology’ [grin] problem discussed in this piece from the British Medical Journal:

Author conclusions in clinical trials funded by for profit organisations are more likely to favour experimental intervention than trials funded by not for profit organisations reveals a study in this week’s BMJ.

As the BMJ is one of a few journals which requires authors to declare funding and competing interests, the researchers used 159 trials published in the journal between 1997 and 2001 as the basis for their study. Each study was examined for a link between any competing interests and the author’s conclusions.

For the purpose of the trial the author’s conclusion was defined as ‘the interpretation of extent to which overall results favoured experimental intervention’. [via EurekAlert]

Keep in mind that “clinical trials funded by for profit organisations” is a euphemism for “…funded by drug companies” and that “favour(ing) experimental interventions” means that the study found favorable results from using that drug company’s product.

Stigmatization and recent advances in conceptualizing mental illness

In my psychiatric work, I find one of the most urgent, painful and underemphasized issues is the stigmatization my patients and their families face and the impact that has on their quality of life and stability. This paper from BioMedNet [requires free registration] is a nice discussion of the issues and the impact of new genetic paradigms in understanding mental illness. Genetic bases of mental illness – a cure for stigma?

An increased emphasis on biological causes of mental illness has been viewed as having the potential to significantly reduce stigma. From this perspective, the current genetics revolution can be seen as a source of hope. However, some have argued that biological attributions could increase stigma, for example by making the ill person seem ‘defective’ or ‘physically distinct’ – ‘almost a different species’. In this paper, I use a multicomponent conceptualization of stigma as a guide in forming hypotheses about the likely impact of genetic attributions on the stigma of mental illness.

As recently emphasized by the US Surgeon General, people with mental illnesses suffer not only from their disorders, but also from the stigma and discrimination that accompany them. Mental illness is associated in the public mind with an astoundingly broad range of negative attributes – for example, being dangerous, dirty, cold, worthless, bad, weak and ignorant. The consequences of these stereotypes range from direct and obvious ones, such as discrimination in employment and housing, to informal social ostracization and more subtle expressions, such as television programs that portray people with mental illness as being inadequate, unlikable and dangerous. Family members also suffer from stigma, through blame for causing the illness, having their own mental health status questioned, rejection by friends and other relatives, and so on.

August 1-2, 2002, Aurora Gallery

Here’s a gallery of amateur photographers’ lovely aurora photographs from around North America, as far south as Des Moines, Iowa, last week. “On August 1st, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth suddenly turned south–a condition that renders Earth’s magnetosphere vulnerable to solar wind gusts. A G2-class geomagnetic storm began soon after. Sky watchers in Canada and parts of the United States saw colorful auroras.”